Sarah Morgan is Abuzz About the Business Value of HR
As an HR executive and mother of five children, Sarah Morgan plans her schedule wisely and includes time to appreciate her life's journey.
Every minute counts for Sarah Morgan.
As a busy human resources executive and mother of five children, Sarah Morgan has little time to spare for relaxation. She will occasionally watch a television show or go out to dinner, but those pleasures are never unplanned. Every activity — even quiet moments of reflection — are planned in advance.
"I have an executive coach I work with. I literally had four separate calendars, so she said, 'You have one life, you have to get one calendar,'" Sarah recalls. "Everything is about choice. How I schedule myself is a choice. Sometimes I have to choose work over going to my kid's basketball game or playing Monopoly. I make those choices, and I'm unapologetic about them. That has become the only way. I have the one life and the same 24 hours a day, so I have to make the best choice in that moment and not look back."
Sarah will look back, however, when asked to retrace the steps she took from being a self-described nosy kid who grew up in New Jersey to where she is now: a 40-year-old raising a family in North Carolina while working as the senior director of HR for SafeStreetsUSA, an authorized provider of ADT security systems. She didn't expect to forge an 18-year career in HR, especially after initially dreaming of other pursuits.
Sarah left her hometown of Irvington, N.J., to attend the University of Richmond in Virginia, where she majored in communications studies and leadership. She considered a legal career after graduating in 2000, but nixed the idea after not liking an internship at the Virginia Attorney General's office. Unsure of which path to choose, Sarah asked her mother, Yvonne Davis, for advice. Her mom recommended HR, an area she had worked in for her entire career.
Sarah was hooked on the profession while on her second HR job. Working for a staffing services company in Virginia, she was sent to a production facility of one of its clients. She handled staffing, training and development, employee discipline, coaching, attendance and worker compensation. "That's where it turned on for me," she says. "I was so young and can't believe they entrusted me with that. It was a wonderful breeding ground. I learned so much."
The staffing firm eventually lost the account, so Sarah went to another staffing company and provided temporary HR services for another production facility. "They made shampoo," she says. "It smelled good all of the time." She took time off to give birth to her first child, and later worked as a regional HR coordinator an automotive maintenance service company. She held the job while simultaneously earning an MBA in HR management from Strayer University in Virginia. The master's degree opened the door to another side of HR that only furthered her love for the profession.
"I got promoted to the corporate office, doing employee benefits, recruiting and employee relations. It was a high-paced job. I loved it," she says. "I know what environments I'm going to thrive in. It's important for anyone to do that in their career. All poodles are dogs, but not all dogs are poodles. You have to figure out your sweet spot in HR and find the areas that will keep you engaged and thriving."
Sarah made her way to SafeStreetsUSA in 2014, serving as a director of HR before earning the promotion to senior director in 2017. She works out of the company's Garner, N.C., office, and appreciates how her company sees the value of HR.
"HR is a specialty of business…and I'm a business person who specializes in HR," she says. "The best organizations are viewing HR in that way and making sure the people focus of HR gets just as much attention as any other part of the business. And the best HR people see themselves that way. As soon as you see you're not just an administrator and pencil pusher, but are there to drive strategies and help bring people to organizations and train them, the better off you become."
Sarah doesn't just talk about HR's vital role in business, she also writes about it on her blog, The Buzz on HR. The blog name is a play on a nickname she's had since childhood. Sarah says she has always been inquisitive, maybe even prying. Either way, her penchant for questions prompted her dad, Royce Davis, to nickname her "BuzzARooney," which was shortened to "Buzz." She says of her nickname: "It's cool that it has endured. It's part of what has given me success."
On a regular basis, Sarah buzzes about a wide array of HR topics on her blog. She once detailed how Yoda of "Star Wars" taught her everything she knows about HR. In February, as part of Black History Month, she wrote a series of posts for the national initiative #BlackBlogsMatter. Sarah and other writers hope their words will spur "more conversations around diversity and inclusion, and amplify the voices of black people," she says. "The more we learn from each other, the more we will understand each other and move forward through the negative and hatred and misunderstanding."
Sarah intends to continue writing for #BlackBlogsMatter through May. It's something she would inevitably have to schedule. With her five children ranging in age from 20 to 9, she and her husband, David, see no other alternative than to map out every minute.
"My husband is amazing," she says. "He's just a fantastic partner. He picks up my slack in every way. He doesn't confine me to traditional gender roles. We both cook, clean and carpool. It's a partnership of family."